Visual thinking strategy is the process of understanding visual art and using background knowledge to analyze and interpret the image. The students learn to support their answers by referencing the image. Students feel more open to participate in the discussion because there is no right or wrong. This strategy promotes student lead learning if you make the students find the answers through research or reading.
The VTS strategy will help student develop skills that will help them be successful in all subjects. The students have to use the image to support their answer like reading they have to use the text to support their answer. In my classroom, I feel that VTS could be used in a variety of different subjects. The easiest subject to implement VTS, in my opinion, would be social studies. My students learn about communities in second grade. I could find images of different communities that we learn about to introduce the new concept.
There are lessons on the link below to implement VTS in science, social studies and language arts. The website helps link VTS to common core standards. It will definitely help me get started using VTS in my classroom.
I agree with you that VTS will be very easy to implement in social studies. I think it would take a little more creativity in science and social studies, but through this course I have some ideas about how this could be done. I currently teach in the high school language arts department as a co-teacher. Most of our texts are difficult to understand and require students to use high level thinking skills. I think that using VTS prior to reading could be a great way to give the students the background information they need to help them better comprehend the literature we are about to read.
I see that you teach 2nd grade, is it difficult to encourage discussion at that level? I am sure it would take some preteaching, but if this discussion was used repeatedly, I bet it would get easier to do as a class. I also think this would be a great way to make the little ones learn to feel comfortable speaking out in front of the class as there often is no right and wrong with this model, everyone input and ideas are in some way correct. I think the ability to feel confident and like your ideas are valued, is so important at this young age.
I also agree that using VTS to facilitate discussions in social studies will be useful. Honestly, I believe that younger children are used to looking more deeply at illustrations to gain meaning because until they become more skilled readers, they are still often dependent on clues in illustrations. Fostering discussions using images about different communities, etc. should be something that would fit naturally in a second grade room. You may also think about incorporating a KWL chart or another interactive chart/graphic to organize their questions and ideas as they explore the pictures, and then follow up after the content is presented.